Thought I may as well write up a half-arsed report on the results of the local elections in NI. 462 seats were up for grabs in 11 councils, all determined using STV in District Electoral Areas (DEA) than normally elect 5, 6 or 7 councillors from the list of candidates in that DEA.
The last local elections were in 2014 as they were for the new council areas which were reduced from 26 to 11 - those elected sat in as a "shadow" council until they came into being in 2015, so this was the first election with the new councils already in place.
The main headline grabbers were Alliance. They saw an increase in council seats from 32 in 2014 to 53 this time, now with representation in 10 councils (Mid Ulster being the odd one out) and increasing their seats in 9 of them. While they had plenty of gains within their heartlands around Greater Belfast and its commuter belt, they gained seats in Derry City & Strabane (2) and also in Fermanagh & Omagh, both in the west of NI where Alliance has had almost no presence in council chambers for decades (bar one in Omagh up until the early 00's). Will be interesting to see if they can maintain this momentum in the EU election later this month.
Some other smaller parties also enjoyed some success, the Greens doubled their councillors from four to eight. The People Before Profit Alliance also jumped from one to five while a "Cross Community Labour Alternative" candidate in Enniskillen won a seat there in Fermanagh & Omagh. The number of independents elected increased from 15 to 24 mostly at the expense of the "main four".
The DUP won back the title of the party with the highest overall 1st preference share of the vote against Sinn Fein with a modest 1% increase, but this wasn't enough to offset an 8 seat loss overall to finish with 122. Unlikely to be a call for manning the lifeboats at Arlene Foster's base however.
Sinn Fein lost about 1% of their share but was able to weather that by breaking even from 2014 with 105 seats. While picking up a couple of gains, they will be concerned by losing five seats in Derry City & Strabane, meaning they now share the largest party status there with the SDLP. It's possible that the general Sinn Fein vote over the last few years has plateaued, the 2017 Assembly elections in the wake of the RHI scandal not withstanding. Again there'll be no alarm bells, but Michelle O'Neill does not exactly inspire people.
The Ulster Unionists took a bit of a hit, going down from 88 to 75 seats. The party is suffering from an identity crises between the more "liberal" leaning end of the party that the previous party leader Mike Nesbitt tried taking the party forward with, and the "DUP lite" end that the current leader Robert Swann aligns himself with. General consensus is that much of their losses went to Alliance which is not a good report on Swann's leadership. The EU elections could also be bad for them. Their long time Strasbourg stalwart Jim Nicholson is retiring as an MEP and a relative unknown is standing in his place on the UUP ticket - their assurance of winning the third EU seat that they have won for decades is no longer assured.
The SDLP continue their slow decline in general, going down to 59 seats from 66. They had modest success in Derry City & Strabane and also in Belfast City, but there was little to cheer about elsewhere. Again, some suggestions that some of their previous votes were leaked to Alliance though not on the same scale as the UUP. The EU election will also be another test of just where the party stands with the electorate, particularly with Sinn Fein hitting the ceiling.
As for the rest...
The bombastic TUV was hit badly, going down from 13 seats to 6, wiped out in Antrim & Newtownabbey, Belfast City (the infamous Jolene Bunting who was later expelled from the TUV), Causeway Coast & Glens (must be a worry for them given its one of their stronger areas of support) and Lisburn & Castlereagh. They're now limited to Mid & East Antrim (5 seats, equal to 2014) and a single member in Ards & North Down.
The Progressive Unionist Party, who are to the UVF what Sinn Fein are to the Provisional IRA, lost one seat in Belfast City to take them down to two there, but retained their seat in Causeway Coast & Glens.
I'm delighted to say that UKIP got wiped out - they won 3 seats in 2014 (though one of them, Henry Reily, retained his seat as an independent in Newry, Mourne & Down).
Aontu, a relatively recent political party mostly made up of former Sinn Fein supporters whom weren't that keen on that leadership's stance on abortion and only slightly less icky on "teh gaze", managed to win one seat in Derry City & Strabane but otherwise elsewhere they stood whilst not exactly whitewashed was still a bit of a damp squib, especially in DEAs that would normally be regarded as rural and nationalist leaning as that would be a social conservative base for them. They'll probably stick around for a wee while yet.
Also while the NI Conservatives didn't win any seats in 2014, outgoing councillor for Causeway Coast & Glens David Harding was standing for them in this election - he had been elected in 2014 under the UUP banner, resigned to become an Independent before later affiliating with the Tories. It shouldn't be a shock to hear that he failed to retain his seat.
A few other notes worthy of a mention include the election of the DUP's first openly homosexual candidate, Alison Bennington winning a seat in Antrim & Newtownabbey. Stranger things have happened I guess. Her nomination, let alone her success, has already ruffled some feathers among the old-school religious wing of the DUP.
As already mentioned in the Sundry Far-Right groups and parties thread, the bong selling Jolene Bunting, elected in 2014 on the TUV banner to give the party its only seat in Belfast City and later expelled from the party who then snuggled up to Britain First, getting Fransen & Golding over to Belfast getting both into trouble as well as recording a disgraceful video featuring Frasen making a speech whilst sitting in the Mayors Chair before eventually falling out (rumours suggest that Bunting was abusing Britain First's credit card and got caught), lost her bid to be reelected to the city council in the Court DEA. Worth keeping some eyes out at the Jobs and Benefits Office located around the Shankill this coming week. Still, 351 voters gave her their first preference.
Meanwhile Barry McElduff won a seat in Fermanagh & Omagh having stood in the Omagh DEA. If the name sounds familiar, he was the Sinn Fein MP for West Tyrone whom resigned in the early part of last year after he posted on his Twitter account a short "joke" video shot in a service station where he had a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre, prompting calls mainly from Unionists that he was deliberately mocking the victims. He had kept a low profile after his resignation, but is now holding political office again even if councillor seems a bit of a step down from MP.
Finally, to show that every vote can count in an STV election, in Mid & East Antrim's Bannside DEA, the final seat in this staunchly unionist area was won by the single Sinn Fein candidate against his sole Alliance rival by just 1.06 votes. Bizarrely, it was a tiny but ultimately significant transfer from the two TUV candidates who were elected on the first count that helped Sinn Fein win the final seat! Jim Allister must be thinking just what on earth was going on there.